The move to messaging
According to the Zipwhip 2019 State of Texting report, 74% of consumers claim having zero unread text messages while only 17% claim having zero unread emails. More importantly, the same report notes that 67% of people would rather text with a business about appointments, reminders and scheduling than talk on the phone or email.
Dealing with the mess of messaging
When most people think of messaging, they tend to think of the SMS (short-messaging services) offered on every smartphone, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger. All are great for sending quick notes to one or more people. However, once you start communicating with upwards of 10 people and engaging in longer exchanges, things can get a little messy. Plus, none of those tools allow you to append messages with customer-specific notes, share information with others outside the initial exchange, or integrate information with existing CRMs.
Enter business texting software and apps.
The new tech behind texting
While business messaging apps and software have been around since 2014, they’re still ‘the new thing’ compared to the 25-year-old texting. And the differences are striking.
According to Doug Regner, VP of sales at Podium, a multi-product business communications platform, “We work with a lot of paint contractors, and they tend to be very busy people. The thing they appreciate most about the technology is how it streamlines communications. Instead of messages piling up in different platforms on a single phone, Podium essentially reroutes them to a shared platform that’s accessible to multiple stakeholders in the company. You can access it via a mobile app or log on from a computer. Incoming and outgoing messages are seen in real time and can be managed by any number of people.”
Regardless of who responds or how, the customer receives a text response from their initial message.
Simplifying more than texting
While managing messages from potential and existing customers is important, so are other aspects of your business. Many text messaging programs and apps also integrate with some of the most popular CRMs— Salesforce, Zendesk, HubSpot and others—making it possible for you to automatically send relevant and personalized texts triggered by information already in your system.
In addition, Podium prompts customers to write reviews when a project is complete. The program then automatically populates them to Google, Facebook and other platforms.
“Reviews are one of the most important ways for a contractor to get discovered,” says Regner. “By soliciting them and posting them for you, Podium not only takes those tasks off your hands, it also helps build your business.”
Making the move
Over the past year, David Chism, founder of A David Creation, a digital marketing agency for contractors, has helped a number of his contracting clients adopt business texting technology.
“One thing that seems to surprise them all is how seamless it can be,” says Chism. “There’s really very little work that has to happen on the contractor side to make the switch other than learning new habits. But the rewards of those new habits can be significant.”
Chism also notes that business texting isn’t the answer for all.
“Most programs are geared toward operations with 10 or more employees and charge on a monthly basis. A low fee is around $300,” he says. “For small operations with just a few employees, there’s probably no need to move off of Facebook Messenger or whatever free app you might be using. But if you’ve got multiple crews and messaging coming in from a number of channels, business texting can really streamline things and help you grow your business with less effort.”